Well it’s Canada Day and I just happen to have a red and white-themed draft lying around. At first I was just going to post it with little else other than some musing on how much sugar I should put into the meringue.
As this is a food blog, I don’t really go into issues or politics or anything much other than food (if every blog touched on everything then things would be pretty confusing!). And sometimes this is because I never know as much as I should know on a matter, and these things can be pretty inflammatory–and before I’m going to be inflammatory, I really should be, at the very least, well-researched.
But because it’s Canada Day, it’s the sort of the day that I want to say something more. I’m very happy and very grateful to live where I do, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. However, I get a bit nervous about expressing this one-sided applause because sometimes I worry patriotism causes us to cover up and ignore our country’s faults and flaws and issues. I’m not sure whether it does, but I hope it doesn’t. I hope that extolling how multicultural Canada is doesn’t dampen the call to address the inequality that most definitely still exists. Nor that congratulating ourselves on being a stable democracy allows us to ignore the senate spending scandals or the fact that we perhaps sorely needed the recently passed Reform Act.
(Though it is unlikely that we’ll ever overlook spending scandals–squandering taxpayer money does tend to generate quite a bit of outrage.)
When I think about what I love about Canada, I also inevitably think about our issues and failings. Three that come to mind: the missing and murdered aboriginal women deemed not a “sociological phenomenon” and for which an inquiry still has yet to be commissioned. Canada’s rigid and resolute policies on solitary confinement. The rising toll of fatal overdoses from the “king of all opiates.” I think part of nationalism is to appreciate what is good about your country and to acknowledge its shortcomings so we can think about how to make it a better country in the future. The point is, on these days, or any days for that matter, it’s fine not to artificially separate what you love about something from what you don’t.
And besides, this pavlova was not just a red-and-white pavlova–nothing is just red-and-white really. It was a pavlova covered with an alarming excess of edible flowers, an alarming excess which carries with it all the nuances and grey areas and–oh god buzzword–diversity. It’s what differentiates a flag from a country; all the things which can make Canada a not very good country at times and a rather worthwhile country at other times.
So happy Canada Day: a time to celebrate what is good and to continue the conversation and debate on what could be better.
(Did I just restate the same thing three times in slightly different forms? Probably, but I’ll leave it all in so the point is reinforced.)
(One more point, an addendum after a quick proofread and realization: is it incredibly privileged and narrow-sighted of me to complain about where I live when it is really such a safe and tolerant place? Yes, absolutely. As I mentioned, I’m very grateful for this fact, but I also want to acknowledge that Canada has its own inequalities and issues.)
(And, um, have I covered all my bases yet? Likely not.)
But now, for the musing on how much sugar I should put into the meringue:
I think a certain amount of sugar is necessary to ensure you have a thick, glossy meringue, but I always find the meringue in the pavlova too sweet. My solution was to cover the meringue with unsweetened whipped cream and to use a more sour combination of fruit. The end result was that I found the fruit too sour and the meringue still to sweet and I guess it sort of did balance out, but not as seamlessly as I had hoped.
I started off by garnishing with a pile of edible flowers but I thought it was perhaps turning out a bit excessive (and revealing a bit too much of my edible flower enthusiasm!). So instead I decided to go the more focused and minimalistic direction by using another calendula.
Once I cut up the pavlova it became quite an incredible mess, and so that’s when I brought the rest of the flowers back to bury it under a slightly aggressive sprinkle of colourful petals.
Roasted black plum and rhubarb pavlova
I found it made enough to serve 6 people quite well.
Lavender and calendula meringue
2 large egg whites (60 g)
1/3 c sugar
a few large sprigs lavender (I only used leaves)
1 calendula flower
Whip the egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until thick, stiff and glossy. Pick the lavender leaves from the stem, and the calendula petals from the flower. Fold the lavender and calendula into the meringue.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread the meringue into a circle approximately 15-cm in diameter.
Bake at 225F for 2 1/2 hours.
Roasted black plum and rhubarb with orange
7-8 stalks rhubarb
4 black plums
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp – 1/4 c sugar
grated zest of 1 orange
Preheat oven to 375F.
Chop the rhubarb stalks into small pieces, and the plums into similarly sized dice. Place it all in a large bowl.
Heat the butter in a small pan until browned. Pour over the fruit and toss to coat. Sprinkle the sugar and orange zest over top and toss until completely mixed. Let the mixture sit and hmm…would you say meld? for 10 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a pan lined with parchment (there will be some juice so choose a large pan or one with taller sides).
Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes or until rhubarb is tender and plenty of juices have been released.
100 mL heavy cream
calendula and other edible flowers if desired
Whip the cream until thick. Spread the cream overtop of the meringue, follow with some generous scoops of the rhubarb and plum (still warm or at room temperature). Garnish with flowers.